A war is brewing between content producers, website owners, and online business owners.

Content marketing has become one of the main, driving elements of building great rankings and a brand online but there are risks of where and when to publish content.

This article will examine the hot debate of duplicate content and the best practices to avoid slipping into the ‘dark side’ of republishing stale content.

What is Duplicate Content?

There is a lot of confusion about the phrase “duplicate content” because there’s so much misinformation and speculation on the part of website owners, search engine experts, and the word of those behind search engine quality assurance (e.g. Matt Cutts).

Here’s the difference:

  • Duplicate content is content that’s similar on the same domain
  • Duplicate content isn’t the same content on multiple websites

If you’re having trouble keeping track, here’s a simple explanation:

  • Duplicate content would be as if you published the same article on your website, trying to disguise it as a fresh piece without changing around the format, structure, or body.
  • Duplicate content doesn’t exist when multiple news websites cover the same topic while quoting the same press release; the same can go for eCommerce websites that use much of the same copy for their thousands of products.

The big difference, and rule of thumb, here is that you simply don’t want to re-publish content on your website over and over again else the new page won’t rank well or not be indexed at all (there’s also a likelihood that you could lose Google PageRank because your website is less trustworthy).

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

No doubt, there will be times when it’s appropriate to republish information on your domain. Likewise, you may hire a freelance writer to product content. However you get your content, here are some helpful tips to avoid the dreaded case of duplication for your work:

  • Create fresh content that is extremely informative and thorough in its topic. Aim to reach at least 500 – 600 words, minimum, for each piece of work. Write casually which will help you create the content in a natural manner rather than sounding directly ripped from a source. A better approach, overall, would be to learn and implement the topic into everyday usage and write your experience after-the-fact.
  • If you buy content than ensure that the content isn’t plagiarized by running it through copyright protection tools like Copyscape. Don’t purchase content (or ask for a refund) if the content turns out to be duplicate.
  • Modify and add at least 25 – 50% extra content if you’ve purchased articles from a marketplace or through a private label rights source. Use these articles as a “foundation” to your work where as it provides the nitty details while you add the story and personal insights.

In all, you shouldn’t worry about duplicate content if you’re covering a news item or if you have a very large website that naturally uses the same copy (such as related product descriptions) but when it comes to fresh content, always try to create from scratch or make a large enough modification that the article reads as new.

What other tips would you add to avoid duplicate content?